Review from Doomed and Stoned
Posted by Nick Skog on Saturday, July 4, 2015 Under: English
From: Doomed and Stoned
Published: July 2, 2015
It’s summer, I know, but it’s time to bundle up real good, because we’re about to go on a rather frigid and icy trek into the long night. Fair warning: with each breath you take, your lungs will scream in freezing agony. Listen the howling of the wind, feel as it burns your face. The blinding orange sky is all around us as push ourselves forward in the numbing intensity of the northern Canada landscape.
This is the imagery that Norilsk create on their 2015 record The Idea of North. Norilsk is a doom band from Gatineau, Québec, comprised of Nicolas Miquelon who plays guitar, bass and sings, while Nick Richer plays drums and offers vocals, as well. Together, they muster such a large sound that I was really surprised and impressed to discover Norilsk are a duo. Mostly considered a doom band, the sick guitar tone hints at sludge, while the harsh vocals give it death metal feel. The Idea of North is very atmospheric, which conjures for listeners a very chilly Artic experience.
This gruesome expedition into the unknown commences with “Japetus” (which the band released as an EP in January of 2014, along with “Posdam Glo” and a cover of Voivod’s “Negatron”). Norilsk set the scene for the rest of this record with this grim opener. The riffs are huge pillars of doom met by a penetrating melody, and together these two forge work together, instead clashing. Macabre death, yet decipherable, vocals make their presence known and this, along with the steady, walking pace up the snowy mountain side, give Norilsk a boundless, bottomless sound. It’s depressing, almost stagnant and weary…and I can’t get enough of it.
For the next track, Norilsk slow things down even more with “Planéte Heurt.” It seems that the driving force here is the bass playing, which adds incredible weight. The bass hammers away, perfectly executed, in fact, throughout the record. Nicolas’ voice is so desolate and bleak that it’s truly unlike anything I’ve heard. Sophisticated guitar melodies float over the crushing tidal wave of riffs, matched with melancholic vocals as we descend even further into the polar sonic abyss.
There’s a pickup in speed to be found on this record, as well. Skip ahead to the fourth track, “La liberté aux ailes brisées,” and you’ll see what I mean. Notice the mid-tempo riffing action, complimented by infectious melody. For that reason, this track is an absolute stand out, showing just how deep an understanding of doom Norilsk possess.
Another thing that won’t go unnoticed is the use of the French language in these songs, as opposed to the standard English we’re used to hearing in our metal. I really like this touch because it adds a sort of grim mystery to the story. This is best displayed in the next song, “Nature Morte.” Norilsk tone things down some through an intriguing guitar plucking and whispering voices - something that reminds me of Yob in one of their quiet moments. This slow mantra continues for the length of the song and, while I enjoy the balance, this track brings to Idea of North, it creates a tension that doesn’t develop far enough for me.
A majestic Candlemass-like intro ushers us into “Potsdam Glo,” but quickly make a dreary turn as those bone chilling vocals take over. Intricate melodies dance all over the place, while the dense vocals flatten everything in sight. There are touches of traditional doom to be found on this track and the guitar solo at the end showcases Norilsk’s brilliance.
Check out the next track, “La Grande Noirceur,” for something a bit more haunting than what we’ve heard so far. It’s a two-minute funeral track preceding the album closer. This instrumental is led by a solitary guitar proclamation escorted by a sedated, blackened fog which leads directly into the title track.
More of those blackened riffs are back, as well as the death-doom melody we have, by now, all come to crave. However, it’s still shrouded in mystery that keeps “The Idea of North” a very obscure song. This track (the longest of the record) is the real embodiment of the Norilsk sound, as Herculean riffs dance along furiously like wind-swept drifts of snow.
Just like the bitter and discordant domain Norilsk evoke with The Idea of North, some listeners may find themselves in that same numbing cold. While most veteran doom fans will come see this record for the heavy, melodic triumph that it is, those new to the genre (and specifically the sub-genre of death-doom) may find the album a bit plodding, in part due to the lurking tempo. For those that have an unyielding grasp on the world of doom, The Idea of North is an adventurous trip through forbidding landscape of the northern Canadian wilderness, with painfully slow death-doom and melancholic melodies in the vein of Thergothon and My Dying Bride. All things considered, this is some brilliant sonic worship.
Reviewed by: Melissa Marie
In : English
Tags: norilsk the idea of north doom metal death-doom metal sludge doom metal gatineau canada canadian doom japetus